A beautiful smile exudes a balance between the gums and teeth. When a patient shows more gums that teeth, they have a “gummy”smile. A “gummy” smile draws attention to your gums –not your teeth –and can make teeth appear shorter than they really are. Studies have been done with dentists, plastic surgeons, dermatologists and regular folk to assess smiles. Most everyone agreed that 2mm or less of gum tissue showing was the level where most participants thought the smile looked normal. Participants started noticing the gum tissue at 3-4 mm, and thinking that too much gum tissue was showing at more than 4 mm.

Doctors who specialize in cosmetic procedures estimate that about 14% of women and 7 % of men have excessive gingival exposure when smiling. It can be due to the following:

  1. short teeth or excessively thick gum tissue.
  2. hyper-mobile lips or short lips.
  3. long protruding upper jaw bone or
  4. a combination of any of the above reasons.

Short teeth or excessively thick gum tissue can be effectively treated with our advanced laser gum recontouring procedure. These “gummy”smiles can be corrected without extensive surgery and pain. On top of that, the healing process after laser “gummy”treatment is usually much less painful and faster than actual traditional surgery.

When the hypermobile lips is the cause of the “gummy”smile, doctors traditionally will perform a surgery to severe the muscles that elevate the upper lip so it can no longer rise as high.

In extreme cases, they might perform orthognathic jaw surgery, which repositions the upper jaw if it sticks out too much. But this can be complicated often requiring braces and can take up to two years to complete.

Now people are going for another route to treat these hypermobile lips or excessive protruding upper jaw bone: Botox. For the last few years, dentists have been injecting Botox into the upper lip “elevator” muscles. It paralyzes the muscles, inhibiting contraction of the upper lip when smiling to prevent the gummy smile. A March 2014 study in Aesthetic Surgery Journal found that off-label use of Botox was a safe and effective procedure for gummy smile, albeit one that lasts only three to four months for the average patient, confirming the findings of an earlier report in the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics.

At Orchard Scotts Dental, we emphasize on proper diagnosis of the ‘Gummy’ smile problem and offer the appropriate treatment options available here: Laser Gum Recontouring as well as Botox.